GreenEDGE cycling team launched, pushing to be first Australian ProTeam by 2012
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Monday, January 17, 2011

GreenEDGE cycling team launched, pushing to be first Australian ProTeam by 2012

by Shane Stokes at 6:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Project unveiled in Adelaide

Shayne BannanReporting that it already has funding of ten to 16 million Euro per season in place, a major push to secure Australia’s first UCI ProTeam licence was launched earlier today in Adelaide. Bankrolled by Jayco chief Gerry Ryan, the GreenEDGE cycling team will aim to secure the UCI’s top-level licence for next season, thus gaining admission to the sport’s top events.

More importantly, general manager Shayne Bannan says that the team will be around for many years to come, providing a long-term base to grow Australia’s cycling talent and strength.

“This is not about a short term bid to get a team in the Tour de France,” he said, while at the same time confirming that the team wants admission to the race next year. “We are aiming to create a team that will stay at the top end of world cycling for a long time to come and to give young kids, just starting to pursue their cycling dreams, something to aspire to.”

The goal of the team is to sign a substantial number of the current top Australian riders, with the figure of 75% Aussie composition being mentioned by Bannan today. It is therefore likely to enquire about the availability of riders such as Richie Porte (Saxo Bank SunGard), sprinters Matt Goss and Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad), young track and road talents Cameron Meyer and Jack Bobridge and experienced veterans such as Stuart O’Grady.

In fact, the investigative blog Inner Ring has suggested that advances may have already been made to some of these riders, prompting threats of legal action against the squad from the current team managers of those concerned. Bannan played down these reports today, saying that the team would abide by the UCI’s rules regarding the start of such negotiations.

Bannan, the former high performance director of coaching for Cycling Australia, has dealt with many of the road and track riders as they progressed in the sport. He pointed out that he already knows them and said that many of them had approached him to inquire about racing for the team. He confirmed that he was also interested in riders from outside the country.

“To attract not just some of Australia’s best riders but some of the best from around the globe, we’ll strive to provide the best possible opportunities, services, support and direction for cycling talent the world over,” he stated.

Others have confirmed that they will be on board. These include former professional Neil Stephens, who worked as directeur sportif with the Caisse d’Epargne team and until recently was Cycling Australia’s professional men’s road co-ordinator, and Gerry Ryan’s son Andrew. The latter will work in the area of marketing.

As part of its launch, which took place one day before the start of the Santos Tour Down Under, Bannan laid out the timescale for its bid for a ProTeam licence. The steps it will follow are:

15 August – Submit a request for ProTeam status
1 October – Submit application
20 October – End of the rider transfer period
25 October – Publication of the team’s main riders
1 November – Detail on registration

The team is aiming to be more successful than the Pegasus Sports team in chasing the ProTeam licence. That squad pushed to be the first Australian team at that level of the sport, but was not able to sign enough high-ranked riders to satisfy the UCI’s requirements. It also experienced sponsorship and funding difficulties, being consequently passed over for a Pro Continental licence. As a result, riders such as Robbie McEwen and Svein Tuft left and went elsewhere.

Bannan said that he has already had talks with the UCI about GreenEDGE’s candidature, and sounds optimistic that the bid will be a strong one. Around the time that Pegasus were refused, there were repeated rumours that the UCI and Cycling Australia favoured the newer setup. This led to some commentators saying that politics had made the Pegasus application a difficult one, although funding was undoubtedly also a complicating factor.

Speaking to AAP, current Team Sky rider Simon Gerrans said that he would be interested in riding for the team in the future.

“It's exciting, it's really exciting, it's something all Aussie professionals have been talking about for a long, long time,” he said. “I'd be super-interested to hear about it ... what they have to offer. Definitely, I might have a big decision to make at some point.”

In what is a boost to women’s cycling, GreenEDGE also intends to set up a female team and race at the professional level. This would presumably also target Australian riders and seek to grow that side of the sport. Promoting track riding is an additional goal. More details of both are expected at a later date but, for now, most of the buzz is around the ProTeam plans.


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